(Disclaimer: I have no idea why the server is not letting me make the appropriate spaces between paragraphs on this post and I am not tech-savvy enough to fix it!) 🙂
I am reading a delightful book by Michael Card entitled A Parable Of Joy . It is a book based on the Gospel of John.
John was Jesus’ closest friend during His time on Earth. Not because Jesus favored John over the others but because John was so enthralled and intoxicated by this God-Man, the Messiah, that he could not get enough of Jesus. He did not want to miss a moment of the astonishing opportunity and privilege he had been given to walk alongside the dusty roads of earth with the very One who created it all. He reveled in his front row seat to the most momentous time in history and was continually amazed to watch the glory and wonder of life lived side by side with the Savior unfold day after day.
Wherever Jesus was, John was right there too.
Michael Card takes portions from the book of John and uses his sanctified imagination, as well as historical fact, to flesh out what John may have been thinking and feeling during those momentous days.
Card’s writing makes Jesus come alive in all His beauty, sweetness, power, glory, compassion, righteous anger, and relentless tenderness.
At one point, when he is writing about the fact that Jesus did His first miracle at the wedding in Cana, Card writes:
“Jesus and His disciples knew the excitement of anticipating a feast. In fact, whenever He was not preaching or teaching, you would most likely find Jesus at a party, a banquet, a feast, for some kind of get-together. It could be said that He was preoccupied with parties. What seemed to annoy the Pharisees most was not that Jesus went to so many parties, but that He seemed to enjoy Himself so much. Perhaps that is the real reason they called Him a winebibber. He was just having too much fun.” (p. 42).
Is that a surprise to you to read that Jesus had fun?
The world has done an effective job of convincing people that Jesus was a killjoy, a stern, stiff man with no sense of humor. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hebrews 1:9 tells us that Jesus is the personification of joy…that Jesus IS Joy.
It was the sheer JOY of Jesus that drew others to Him like a magnet when He walked this earth.
It is that same burning and inextinguishable joy that He offers to every one of His own today.
Jesus truly awakened me to His joy back in 1997 when our friends David and Wendy lent us a videocassette of The Gospel According ToMatthew. At the time, it was the first movie ever made where every word was directly from the Gospel of Matthew. There was no added dialogue. It was the book of Matthew come to life in vivid color. From the first scene, I was captivated and enthralled. I had never seen Jesus portrayed like this.
Bruce Marchiano, the actor who was chosen to play Jesus described his first meeting with the film’s director, Regardt van den Bergh: “Bruce, I have one word for you: JOY. He was anointed with the oil of joy, and that’s what set Him apart from everyone else! Bruce, I believe that’s what the Lord wants us to do in Matthew—to present Jesus as a Man of Joy.” (In The Footsteps Of Jesus, p. 73)
And that is exactly what they did.
Bruce writes of his experiences as the filming continued: “As I sought to confirm that joy of Jesus in the Word, it became so blatantly obvious I couldn’t believe I’d never caught it before. Suddenly it was everywhere, screaming from the pages of Scripture: joy! Jesus began jumping off the page at me as well—His realness and strength, the sparkle in His eyes, the spring in His gait, the heartiness in His laugh, the genuineness of His touch; His passion, playfulness, excitement, and vitality: His JOY!”
“Yes Jesus smiled; yes, Jesus laughed. Jesus smiled bigger and laughed heartier than any human being who has ever walked the planet.”
“He had no reason to hold back. He was GOD, and He had no problem being who He fully was and fully living what He fully felt, every full moment of every full day. And that word “full” is really how I came to see the joy of Jesus. It wasn’t so much just a smile and a laugh, for as hard as He laughed and as big as He smiled, that’s how hard He wept and how deeply His heart broke.”
“The joy of Jesus, I discovered, was wrapped up in His living in all the fullness of life’s ultimate adventure—a bigger-than-lifeness, robustness, victoriousness that comes with living 100% in the Father’s will 100% of the time.”
“Can you imagine the level of joy in your heart if you could live just ten seconds that way? Jesus lived every breathing moment that way!” (pp. 77-78).
As I watched the movie unfold, portraying Jesus in such a fresh, vital, jubilant, elated manner, I was often reduced to tears of wonder. “Jesus, I never knew You were this ALIVE” I remember telling Him one night after watching one of the tapes.
I could sense His smile and I knew He meant to show me and teach me and fill my life up with His Joy for the rest of my days.
Jesus used that wonderful movie to ignite a passion for Him in my heart that has only grown brighter and stronger through the years. He became so real to me. (So much so that when I get to Heaven and see the real Jesus, I will be shocked that He looks nothing like Bruce Marchiano! 🙂 ). When I read my Bible, I was not just reading about Jesus; I had entered into a love affair with my resurrected Savior. I could hear His voice. He showed me how to see every aspect of my life through His eyes. He comforted me. He challenged me. He counseled me. He convicted me. He taught me that I had only just begun to truly know Him and each revelation was sweeter than the one before.
Through the pages of Scripture, He encouraged me to see myself through HIS eyes, not the often harsh view of my own eyes. While I had often felt like an ugly duckling, He showed me that I was beautiful to Him.
He showed me what broke His heart…and then He broke mine to the same things.
When my life seemed to fall apart, He promised me that His love was constant, regardless of what I could see. He healed my broken heart and gently put all the shattered pieces together. And all the while a miracle occurred: I learned that His joy is not light like a feather. It is powerful and indestructible, able to withstand anything this life can throw at me.
He showed me that HE is true LIFE and taught me how to treasure my moments, to not take a single day for granted.
In short, He set my heart on fire with His joy and I have never been the same. It is the sweetest life.
Make the decision today to enter into the joy of a Savior who knows how to enjoy a party. At this moment, He is planning the Party to end all parties. (Revelation 19:5-9)
I will look forward to seeing you there!
(Note: all photos are from The Visual Bible).